Ditch the long lines in Dotombori and get your late night octopus fix at the cozy and hip Tako Tako King, featuring blues, jazz, beer, tentacles and staff who are hilarious in any language. If you can't make it to either of the Namba area locations, chances are you can get your octopus fix within block of wherever you are: Takoyaki shops are literally everywhere in Osaka.
Other noteworthy street food can be found in the mazelike backstreets of Kyobashi and Shin Sekai. These neighborhoods look straight out of the 70's, loaded down with pachinko parlors, girly shows and most importantly, tiny food stalls with an average of six seats and the heady aromas of deep fat fryers and noodle broth. Take your pick of little neighborhood joints with udon noodles, fried soba, roasted everything on a skewer or okinomiyaki, the delicious and filling three-way love child of coleslaw, omelette and pancake. Both of these neighborhoods rate among polite society as a bit seedy, but that's entirely the point. Going to either 'hood is cheap, tasty and the best way to end up blood brothers with drunk salarymen and construction workers in parachute pants.
For a dose of history with your calorie rush, Osaka's suburb Fuse boasts the original conveyor belt sushi restaurant, founded in 1958. Genroku Sushi still serves it up, cheap and mechanical with prices hovering around ¦130 (about $1) per plate, depending on what tunas are selling that day. For a little tastier, less automatic sashimi, uptown Osaka has Nawa, a neighborhood place where the sushi comes super fast and super fresh, offering rare cuts like raw steak, which is far better than it sounds.
As a port town, Osaka has always had international tastes, and this goes for the restaurants too. The last two years have seen Mexican become the new "it" cuisine. Hermanos in Namba is a good bet with vegan offerings on the menu for those who worry that Osaka's food always involves something dead.
For a good curry and a fine time, it's hard to do better than the Nepalese outpost Ghorka Bazar, the skinniest bar and grill you've ever seen. Master of the house Diwarker Thapa also happens to be the nicest guy in the universe, presiding over a domain of reasonable prices, a friendly neighborhood atmosphere and a delicious mix of spice and rice.
Also not to be missed is the indoor barbecue specialty called yaki niku. Although it's found across the city, the traditionally Korean enclaves of Tsuruhashi and Imazato are a good bet for excellent cuts of beef and pork that you cook at the table with a selection of sauces and vegetables. Finding a decent place to eat is easy enough: Walking west from JR Tsuruhashi Station takes you through a gauntlet of waitstaff all singing the praises of their particular restaurants, prices and meat.
Make sure to save a little room though, as Tsuruhashi is also home to Kanariya, the best sweets shop in the city, famous for its mountainous parfaits and rock 'n roll ambiance. Enough cannot be said for the curative powers of spending a scorching afternoon with a pile of ice cream larger than your head. But if you give me a minute to digest all this, I might be willing to try.